The nuances of the 2007 mayoral campaign in Birmingham, Alabama have begun, despite efforts to the contrary. Though it speaks to a much broader issue.
Councilwoman Valerie Abbott presented a resolution at the most recent city council meeting that has been adopted by “…167 cities and towns in 40 states, representing more than 16.9 million people” according to the National League of Cities official website, specifically the page describing their Partnership for Working Towards Inclusive Communities. Rather than repost the resolution here for those that are not familiar with it, I’ll link to Kathy’s post of the document. I found it slightly disturbing that the resolution did not pass, especially considering this council’s somewhat public record of supporting initiatives that would lead the city towards what many consider its rightful place among the South’s elite. I’d read before hopping on a plane for an extremely long flight back from Seattle that the resolution would be reintroduced with opportunities to tweak as necessary, so I figured that it was only a matter of time before the council approved words that better reflected their agenda, though I was starting to doubt just what that agenda is.
Then, as I’m getting ready to run the Cooper River Bridge Run Saturday morning (I’m runner #26726 – results are normally up late Saturday if you’re interested) I decide to hop on my friend’s laptop and see what the latest is from town. Imagine my surprise when I see that a resolution will be introduced at Tuesday meeting by Frank Matthews apologizing for slavery that will be introduced by Councilor Hoyt. (FYI – comments are closed for the linked News article post.)
At first glance, it would make some sense, except when you realize that the city of Birmingham did not exist until after the end of the Civil War. Slavery could be pointed to as a reason for the levels of racial discrimination that still at times seem to permeate the city even as members of the same race nitpick about what it truly means to be “black” or “white” as we progress into the 21st century. I guess it bothers me plenty considering that this will probably be finished at 1 a.m. and I have to be awake at 5:20 a.m. (though you probably won’t be reading this until 7:30 a.m., about the time every year when I ask myself why in the world am I getting ready to run over this bridge AGAIN?) Read on though…